About Us

Rainbow Dance Theatre’s ensemble of eight virtuoso dancers transforms the concert stage into a world of mystery, pathos and humor.

Delighting audiences of all ages with its athletic “pull-out-the-stops celebration of … dancing that pays homage to world-dance and –music influences” (Sheryl Dare, Honolulu Advertiser), RDT’s repertory features modern works with roots in the traditions of many world cultures.  Combined with innovative aerial choreography, visually stunning interactive sets and full-stage 3-D backdrops, the distinctive choreography of artistic directors Darryl Thomas and Valerie Bergman creates “an exotic feast for the senses”.  (Isamu Jordan, Spokane Spokesman Review)

“At first glance, the audience was drawn immediately into the show’s jaw-dropping sets, which included a beautifully rendered backdrop of the urban life, a full-size faux rock wall, a giant multimedia screen, a cargo net suspended above the stage, pyrotechnics, and more.  The dancing was breathtaking, artfully rendered, and polished.  The show featured different types of dance, from hip hop and African rhythms to physical/martial arts based dancing and modern.  The audience stayed engaged throughout this incredible performance and offered a standing ovation, roaring, at the end of the program.”  (Camille Barigar, Arts on Tour, Twin Falls, Idaho) 



Rainbow Dance Theatre is directed by internationally renowned dancer-choreographers Valerie Bergman and Darryl Thomas.  Its name highlights its roots in Hawaii, the “land of rainbows”, as well as the ethnic diversity of its company members and the diverse cultural influences in the choreography performed by the Company.  The Company celebrates this diversity as well as state-of-the-art technology in dance theatre performance with its virtuosic style that fuses West African Dance, Haitian Dance, Hip Hop, Martial Arts and American Modern Dance with computer animation and aerial choreography.  This high-impact, rapid-fire performance style features a rugged athleticism and gravity-defying partnering.  3-D backdrops, inter-active full-stage sets and lavish costuming add a unique visual element that transforms the dance performance into an entertaining and provocative theatrical event.

Founded in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1991, Rainbow Dance Theatre (RDT) has been based in Monmouth, Oregon since 1998.  The Company has toured throughout the world, performing in Europe, Asia, the United States, and Mexico to widespread critical and popular acclaim.  At the invitation of the United States Pavilion, the Company represented the state of Oregon at the 2005 World Expo in Nagoya, Japan.  Other international festival performances include the Second International Dance Festivals in Taegu and Pusan, South Korea, the 5th and 9th Concurso Continental de Danza Contemporanea in Mexico City, D.F., Dance Tanz in Osaka, Japan, Men Dancing and Cultural Slam in Honolulu, Hawaii, the World Expo ’92 in Seville, Spain, and the 2004 International VSAarts Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. 

RDT tours throughout the Northwest United States as a member company with the Arts Northwest on Tour program.  As a roster company with Young Audiences, RDT performs for over 15,000 Oregon and Washington school children per year.  Its “Rainbow Project”, funded by grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and the 21st Century Learning Center, brings Hip Hop and African Dance classes and performances to at-risk children, teens and their families in the Salem, Falls City, Monmouth and Independence, Oregon communities.  The Company has directed similar programs in other cities throughout the United States in conjunction with local community organizations, schools, and police departments.  The Company and its Artistic Directors have received numerous other grants including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Atherton Family Foundation, Fred Meyer Foundation, Persis Corporation, and MJI Broadcasting.


Artistic Director Valerie Bergman danced professionally in New York with many internationally recognized post-modern choreographers including Nina Wiener, Mel Wong, Douglas Neilsen, and Marta Renzi.  While with the Nina Wiener Dance Company, she served as principal dancer and ballet mistress, starred in several world premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Dance Festival, and appeared on PBS and Dutch National Television. Bergman has danced as well with The National Ballet of the Netherlands and the Hawaii Opera Theatre Ballet. In 1991 she founded the Rainbow Dance Theatre (formerly Valerie Bergman Dance Company) in Honolulu, Hawaii where she collaborated with Hawaii’s premiere world-beat band, Cabaseke, and internationally acclaimed Taiko drum master, Kenny Endo.  As dancer and choreographer, Bergman has toured throughout Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the mainland United States and the Hawaiian Islands.  She has won awards and grants from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D. C., Oregon Arts Commission, Hawaii State Dance Council, Hawaii State Foundation for Culture and the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Atherton Family Foundation, MJI Broadcasting and the American College Dance Festival.  Her background in dance bridges many cultural styles including training in Hula with Kumu Hula Noenoelani Zuttermeister, West African Dance with Djoniba Mouflet of The National Ballet of Senegal, and Afro-Haitian Dance with Julio Jean of Haiti.  In New York, Bergman taught ballet and modern dance at the Finis Jhung Ballet Studio, Viola Farber Dance Studio and the State University of New York at Purchase.  Other teaching credits include the University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Iowa, Studio Dance Tanz of Osaka, Japan, Florida School of the Arts and Western Oregon University, where she has taught ballet and modern technique as well as body conditioning for dancers, Hip Hop, improvisation and composition.  Since 2008, she has directed the dance program at the Salem Family YMCA.


Artistic Director Darryl Thomas toured throughout the world as dancer and artistic collaborator in the world-renowned Pilobolus Dance Theatre, receiving an Emmy for his 1996 Kennedy Center performance of the Pilobolus work “Untitled”, starring annually in the Company’s sold-out New York performances, and performing in the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.  In addition, Thomas has collaborated with Pilobolus on commercial television projects such as the 2006 award-winning Hyundai television commercial which featured dancers in silhouette creating a series of images including a Hyundai car.  Demonstrations from the commercial were featured television on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Conan O’Brien Show, and the 2007 Academy Awards (Oscars).  Previous to his work with Pilobolus, Thomas danced in Washington, D. C. with Assane Kante’s Kankouran West African Dance Company.  He received his Master of Fine Arts in performance and choreography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  He has received grants and awards for choreography from the Hawaii State Dance Council, Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Oregon Commission for the Arts, Persis Foundation, and MJI Broadcasting.  Thomas has collaborated on programs in dance for at-risk youth in Florida, Ohio, Connecticut and Oregon in conjunction with local police departments, school districts, churches and high schools for the performing arts.  One such program, “Youth At Risk Dancing” (YARD) based in Cleveland, Ohio was awarded the 1999 United States President’s “Coming up Taller” Award given by Hillary Rodman Clinton. In 2001, Mr. Thomas represented Rainbow Dance Theatre at the National Ballet of Senegal in Dakar where he researched indigenous dances and collaborated with National Ballet Costume Designer Djibril Sane on costumes for Act Three of RDT’s Camouflage Trilogy. His choreography has been featured in the repertory of dance companies spanning the globe, including Singapore, Mexico City, D.F., Pusan, South Korea, Honolulu, Hawaii, and many regional companies in the United States.  Mr. Thomas has taught as a visiting professor at the University of Florida of Gainesville, Florida, the Centro Nacional De Las Artes of Mexico City, D.F., Studio Dance Tanz of Osaka, Japan and Pusan National University of Pusan, South Korea. Currently Mr. Thomas is Professor of Dance at Western Oregon University where he teaches composition, partnering, Hip Hop, Hawaiian, Salsa, West African and Modern Dance.

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